Tackling problem families saving Chester 'millions'

Published date: 14 July 2014 |
Published by: Steve Creswell
Read more articles by Steve Creswell


‘TROUBLED families’ in the Chester area have been costing hospitals, schools, police and the benefits system as much as £39.4m a year, latest figures reveal.

But of the 525 families identified as needing help, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CwaC) has helped 221 get their lives back on track – potentially cutting the annual bill by £16.6m.

A troubled family is defined by the Government as one in which adults are receiving out-of-work benefits and children are regularly off school and involved in crime or anti-social behaviour.

It has been calculated that, without intervention, each one costs the public sector an average of £75,000 a year.

By comparison, 585 troubled families had been identified in Cheshire East, costing £43.9m, of which 105 have now been helped by the local authority, saving £7.9m.

And in Liverpool 2,105 troubled families were flagged, racking up a bill of £158m, while 1,577 have received crucial help, slashing the cost by £118m.

The figures have been made available through the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Goverment (DCLG).

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Nobody is saying troubled families will become model citizens overnight but turning them around starts with getting kids off the streets and into school, giving them a better chance in life, and helping adults into employment or better able to work.

“This is good for the taxpayer, good for the families themselves and good for the communities around them.”

For a family to be off the ‘troubled’ list, children must have attended school for three straight terms and adults have been in work for three months.

Local authorities are paid up to £4,000 on a payment-by-results basis for helping troubled families.

The Government’s £448m three-year budget for 2012 to 2015 is drawn from six Whitehall departments, which all stand to benefit from the public sector working more effectively with troubled families.

Cllr Mike Jones, leader of CwaC, said: “It is great to see figures that evidence the work and achievements of CWaC and our partners who embarked on a journey to transform services and support for families.

“Our priorities remain focused on supporting those families most in need to get on in their lives and make positive improvements that will benefit them and their families, to build a resilience and confidence in their own ability to develop solutions to any problems that may arise in the future.”

Head of the troubled families programme, Louise Casey, said: “CWaC deserves credit for taking up the challenge of the troubled families programme and achieving results so quickly.

“By dealing with all the family members and all of their problems in a tough and intensive way, we are finally getting to grips with problems which may have persisted for generations.

“We’re giving hope to people who have often been failed in the past and relief for the communities that suffered the effects of their behaviour.”

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